Flip the Switch: Eliminate Exclusion

Flipping the Switch … Unleash the Power of Personal Accountability

In Flipping the Switch, the companion book to QBQ!, we teach five “Roadblocks to Learning.” One of them is Exclusion, and it’s all about when we, based on our faulty assumptions of people around us, fail to learn from them.

My story:

Early in my speaking career, sometime in 1996, I came down from the platform after a talk to shake hands and enjoy the moment. I was feeling good because I thought it was one of the best presentations I’d ever delivered, and the response from the audience seemed to confirm my impressions.

After the excitement had died down and the crowd had left, I noticed one person still in the ballroom. She was the “event planner” who had coordinated the meeting, and I certainly wanted her feedback.

Actually, looking back all these years, I wanted her praise.

But I knew she was totally underwhelmed when all she said was, “Thanks for coming, Mr. Miller. Your taxi is waiting.”


After a little coaxing, she gave me her critique: There was something about my style of delivery that interfered with the message for her. She simply did not like it.

I smiled and thanked her for her candor. But let me tell you what I was really thinking. It’s not pretty, but it’s real:

What do you know? You’re not a speaker. You’ve never done what I just did! Most people couldn’t lead three of their best friends in silent prayer! Look what I just did for an hour in front of 200!

I had not heard her because I had EXCLUDED her.

I eroded her credentials, marginalized her input, and dismissed her criticism because I believed she couldn’t possibly understand what it’s like to do what I do. Through my own arrogance and prejudice, I decided she didn’t “belong to my group,” and, thus, her opinion was unworthy.

But …

As I flew home that evening, I considered her input and admitted that her point was valid. She was right. She had shared an insight that, as it turned out, helped me a great deal when I applied it in my next engagement.

We use Exclusion every day against people who are different from ourselves, in all walks of life …

  • The salesperson rejects input from Marketing, thinking, They’ve never been in the field.
  • The executive doesn’t listen to the administrative assistant because, Well, what could she possibly know?
  • The doctor rejects the nurse’s opinion, telling herself, She didn’t go to medical school for twelve years.
  • The mom or dad ignores the child’s opinion due to this outdated belief: Parents always know best. (More here about being a great parent)
  • The older colleague fails to hear the younger one, wanting to admonish, After you experience more life, you’ll understand.
  • The educated person with three degrees and numerous letters trailing their name thinks, I went to The University and you only attended that school, so …..

Exclusion. Just one of five “Roadblocks to Learning.” Let’s each practice personal accountability and commit to growing beyond this extremely human habit today!

Who have you excluded recently? Go ahead, flip the switch and hear what they have to say. Tell us about it in the Comments section below!

In this week’s give-away, two winners* (selected randomly by RaffleCopter) will win an autographed copy of Flipping the Switch … Unleash the Power of Personal Accountability.

*Winners must live in the United States or Canada.

If you are not a subscriber to our QBQ! QuickNote emails, sign up here.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


33 Responses

  1. Just the other day I didn’t listen to my 16-year-old. She pointed out a bias in something I said. It took me 24 hours to realize she was right, and I did go back and acknowledge that to her.

  2. Love your materials ! I heard Kristin speak last year at an American Family corporate meeting and she was great. I’m going through the original QBQ with my two teenage boys and it’s been enlightening. Of course, being teens, they do have to give me a hard time about it, and they LOVE to go around the house asking “who dropped the ball?”. But, in reality, it’s been a great tool and a mechanism around which we can analyze our role in taking accountability for our actions and working to solve problems rather than assign blame. I can’t say it’s eliminated all complaining yet… 🙂 but it’s definitely helping. Thanks and keep up the good work! -Tim

  3. I find myself battling the urge to exclude the junior members of my dept, specifically when they are disagreeing with what I know to be true…except recently when I found out I had been wrong the entire time. whoops!!!

  4. I excluded ideas from one of our youth during a youth event thinking they aren’t responsible for all these kids and they haven’t experienced life enough yet to have a valid opinion. But, like you, after I thought about it, their idea had merit.

  5. I do have an opinion about many things. And many times my husband has to remind me that he has one as well and just maybe his opinion should be given more consideration. He’s right and I know this. And now when I share my opinion I happily add, “But I’m happy to be wrong!” It has made all the difference in the world.

  6. I have had to catch myself a number of times with the Operations Manager. She does a lot of the Financial Accounting for our organization and has a very “facts based” point of view. Sometimes I think she is taking things too literally, and then come to find, she has isolated a detail that in fact, has a big impact. I just thought she was too into the detail. My own filter/bias is putting cotton in my ears. I’ve had to apologize a number of times!

  7. definitely tend to not value some of the comments or opinions of some employees due to their lack of performance. their lack of performance should be separated and addressed, and I shouldn’t use that as an excuse not to listen to them

  8. I tend to not really listen to my youngest Hannah. She is a teenager and has much wisdom but has not yet learned how to deliver it in a less blunt way. I need to start filtering and see how much truth there is in her comments before dismissing them.

  9. Sometimes I fail to listen to my hisband’s advice on cooking, which is not smart on my part since he’s a better cook than me and will be eating what I make. I need to be less prideful and willing to listen to everyone. We can all learn something from everyone.

  10. I exclude family members, my grandmother in particular; I am thinking at the time she just doesn’t get it…but I’m probably missing out on some wisdom.

  11. I choose not to listen to an associate who seemed too emotional about an issue and misaed the real point of the message. Since then, I have tried to look completely at the message and signs given to me.

  12. Coming from someone who is a bit younger, it is very discouraging to be “written off” so easily and so frequently. Whenever there is a formal or informal team discussion, my input is almost always marginalized the minute I provide it, but then a few days or weeks or months later it comes out that I was right, or at least on the right track. It becomes very daunting and hardly encourages an atmosphere of sharing when this happens on a regular basis like it does for me. For months I would dread coming into work for various reasons, this one included. I was finally given the recommendation to read the QBQ! by my boss’s boss and I read it and it spoke to me on such a profound level. Now I accept that I can still share my input, even if I know it will most likely be cast aside. But I don’t let that stop me and I don’t let it upset me anymore. I look for ways to work around the difficulties and I found that by asking the question, “How can I work to the best of my ability in the face of these challenges?”, usually leads to good results. One tool I have discovered is to try to find documentation or data to support my point. That way, it’s not only my opinion I’m presenting, but there are approved documents that speak to the same information. I wouldn’t say that the situation is getting better, but how I handle it certainly is – and I think that’s all that matters!

  13. I often choose not to listen to team members based on past dealings with them. I really shouldn’t do that and thanks again for the reminder.

  14. Exclusion: Just over the weekend I was walking with my little and lovely sons downtown shops. One of them asked me to buy for him a mathematical set. I asked what had happened to the one I had bought for him a while ago. He politely said that he had lost some of the instruments in it. And (very sorry), I went into deep silence and never responded! Now after reading this, I am guilty. How could I treat my dear and lovely son like this? I am picking up my phone to apologize and buy him a math set right away. I should perhaps tell him to treasure it and keep it safe. Good post. I have learned my lesson.

  15. I have been excluding our team of writers, thinking that I know more than they do about one topic in particular and their views don’t matter. This book is helping me overcome that.

    This book is a must read at our company (as was QBQ) and we are holding lunches to discuss the book.

  16. It happens a lot where I work and throughout our organization. People discounting new ideas and others methods simply because they are new, or don’t fit our current, traditional and long-accepted way of doing things, or “that person hasn’t done X so what do they know.” I work in youth sports and it’s especially rampant with coaches regarding parents, “their opinion doesn’t count because they’re not a coach.” I’m definitely working on considering all sides and opinions

  17. When I read this I was reminded of a line from one of my favorite movies (“The NeverEnding Story”) when she says, “It has to HURT if it’s to HEAL!” It was bothering me that I couldn’t remember her name (it is Urgl by the way) when I ran across this post which explands on the idea of letting go of exclusions – especially painful ones – as they can only make us better!


  18. Hmmm….I am guilty of this all the time. New processes are handed down from above that require changes from old habits to new. I am often offended because “They have no idea what I do.” Gives me a whole new outlook. Thanks

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *